ok, first of all, i’m sure some of you are wondering: what is labneh?
labneh is essentially what you get when you strain yogurt to get a thick, cream cheese-like yogurt - some people have used the term “yogurt cheese” to describe it, but i’m going to lay off that one because i feel like it could perhaps turn some people off. it’s true though, labneh does have a cream cheese-like texture, but i’m going to argue that it’s even better than cream cheese. straining the yogurt gives labneh a distinct tanginess that doesn’t come close to much else. and when you dress it up with toppings it just makes the flavor sing that much more.
vegan labneh is a bit different than traditional labneh. first of all, it contains more water since the one we use here is made from almond milk (ingredients: almonds and water). therefore, i like using a nut milk bag to strain it rather than cheesecloth. we also add a bit more lemon juice and salt, since plant-based yogurt doesn’t inherently have the level of tang that dairy-based yogurt has. the added salt just brings out that tanginess a bit more.
what do i need to make it?
first of all, it’s super easy! all you need are a few essentials that you probably already possess:
a large deep bowl.
a fine mesh strainer.
secondly, you will need 3 ingredients:
kite hill plain unsweetened greek-style yogurt.
fresh lemon juice.
fine sea salt.
plus, 24 hours in a refrigerator. that’s it!
why should i make this labneh?
i can’t tell you what to do, nor do i want to! but, i can nudge you (i’m good at nudging)! firstly, labneh can go with just about anything, and can be made into so many different things - both sweet or savory: cake/cupcake frosting, the base for a fruit compote, eaten plain with a drizzle of honey, used as a dip for your preferred protein, thinned and tossed into pasta, plopped onto flatbread or pizza (see below), sweet or savory toast (also see below), the base for a leaf-less salad - the options are almost limitless. but i nudge mostly because there’s nothing more satisfying than making something this delicious with your own two hands that’s essentially effortless - have i convinced you yet?
in all seriousness this recipe came about because it seems with each of my pregnancies labneh is all i’ve wanted. the first go round with amesy, frank and i would frequently have brunch at a local restaurant in brooklyn, miriam. i would order the israeli breakfast - egg scramble, labneh with a pool of olive oil and za’atar in the middle; breakfast potatoes, israeli salad, and a side of their green tahini - if i close my eyes tight enough, i can still taste that delightful meal.
i don’t generally consume dairy, but that labneh at miriam was all i wanted. though, after i had amesy, the craving for it significantly diminished - until this pregnancy! however, this time around the discomfort that comes with consuming cow-based dairy products is more uncomfortable for some reason. thankfully, with all the amazing plant-based yogurts on the market, making your own vegan labneh is quite easy. why did i choose the almond milk-based yogurt in this recipe? simple, it’s a greek-style yogurt and therefore its’ consistency and flavor is consistent with that of a dairy-based greek yogurt - and it’s so, so good. i can’t wait for you all to try it! and i’d love to hear what you all like using labneh for, there are so many options, but i know i’m probably missing a bunch!
xo’s and happy april!
how to make vegan labneh & a few ways to use it
| makes just about 3 cups |
| makes roughly 3 cups |
24 ounces (roughly 3 cups) kite hill unsweetened greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 fine sea salt
line a fine mesh strainer with a nut milk bag, and place them over a large bowl, making sure the bowl is big enough that the strainer doesn’t touch the bottom - you want at least an 1 1/2-inches between the bottom of the strainer and the bottom of the bowl.
in another large bowl, stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. pour the yogurt mixture into your nut milk bag. tie the bag closed, and cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. place in your refrigerator, and let rest for 24 hours.
after the 24-hour rest period, remove the dishtowel. at this point there will be quite a bit of liquid at the bottom of the bowl - discard it - and when you loosen your nut milk bag you will find that your yogurt has thickened significantly.
congratulations! at this point your yogurt is now labneh! yay!
scrape the labneh from your nut milk bag and store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.
labneh dip w/ pistachios, herbs & za’atar
| serves 2-4 |
1 cup vegan labneh
2 tablespoons toasted & chopped pistachios
1 tablespoon mixed herbs (i used mint and chives)
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a good pinch flaky sea salt
in a shallow bowl (or on a large plate), spoon the labneh into the center. use a spoon to smooth the labneh into the bottom of the bowl, spreading it out to the sides as you go (you could easily just plop it into a bowl, but this creates those lovely little divots into which your nuts, herbs, za’atar, and evoo will pool).
sprinkle with your toppings and serve immediately with crackers, toasty bread, freshly cut veggies, etc.!
charred spring onion & labneh flatbread
| serves 4 |
half of this gluten-free dough recipe (or dough recipe/store-bought flatbread of choice)
1 tablespoon avocado oil (or another neutral high heat oil)
1 bunch spring onions, white and light green parts cut in half, then in quarters
1/2 cup-3/4 cup vegan labneh
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
flaky sea salt
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
preheat oven to 500°F and place a pizza stone inside.
press your dough out into a large oval, with about 1/4-inch thickness. once your oven has preheated, bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until edges are crisp, and the center is cooked through.
let the flatbread cool on a rack while you char the onions. heat a large cast iron skillet to medium-high. once hot, add the oil and half the sliced onion pieces, cut side down. cook for 1-2 minutes, until lightly charred; turn them over and cook the other side for about 1 minute, until mostly tender and golden. remove onions and let them rest on a paper towel-lined plate. repeat with the other half of onions, adding more oil as needed.
spread 1/2 cup labneh evenly across the flatbread (an offset spatula does the trick wonderfully), if you need more, add the additional 1/4 cup. top with the charred onions; sprinkle with the za’atar, chopped dill, and a couple pinches flaky sea salt. finally, drizzle with olive oil, and serve :)
labneh & jam toast
| makes 1 serving |
1 slice toasted and cooled bread
1/4 cup vegan labneh
pinch sea salt (optional, but highly recommended)
1-2 tablespoons favorite jam/preserve
roughly 1 teaspoon toasted & chopped pistachios
plop the labneh into the center of your toast. use a spoon to swoosh the labneh out to the corners of the bread, creating little divots. then sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
spoon the jam into the divots, spreading it out toward the edges of the bread. sprinkle with chopped pistachios, then inhale ;)